Creating a more equitable and inclusive workforce and society is the right thing to do. Period.
It also turns out that studies show “well-managed diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and are better at making decisions and solving problems.”*
Today’s leaders and managers need to learn how to foster equity and inclusion in their organizations.
Research shows that we all have certain implicit biases. To learn more about that and even take a free assessment to measure your own implicit biases, check out this information on the Harvard’s Project Implicit.
Becoming aware of one’s biases is a good self-awareness exercise, but what can leaders do to manage through these biases that we all have to one extent or the other? Here are a few suggestions:
*Insist on a Diverse Pool. It may take extra work, but research shows that the chances of hiring a woman or nonwhite candidate are much, much greater when at least two finalists are diverse.
*Establish Objective Criteria. Write down specific qualifications when designing the job and focus on these during the selection process. Rate all candidates using the same rubric.
*Limit Referral Hiring. If you hire from the social networks of your current workforce then you will likely get more of the same. Recruit more broadly.
*Mindfully Assign People to High Value Projects. Carefully consider the entire team as you assign people to high value projects. Make sure to share these around and that people have the training to be successful.
*Equalize Your Access. Be sure to meet as regularly and equally with everyone on your team as much as possible.
*Clarify Performance Criteria. Have specific well-communicated criteria on performance evaluation and the process for considering promotions.
This list is just a beginning set of suggestions on the long road to building a more equitable and inclusive workforce – but it is a good start. A lot of it comes down to being mindful about what we are doing. Leaders need to make this a priority and, as usual, must role model the proper behaviors.
*Williams, J. and Mihaylo, S. “How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams,” Harvard Business Review, November – December 2019, pp. 151 – 155.